Cool Links #86: The One About A Happy 3rd Anniversary

My blog is now three years old.  That is amazing to me anyway.  I’ve been serving up links, ideas, topics and fun for more than 500 posts now.  That means I average three posts a week.  I know most weeks I don’t publish that often.  I hope that some of the stuff I put out there has been helpful, interesting or in some way useful.  I’m looking forward to many more years of blogging – I hope.  I guess my plan is to keep it up for the next 15 or so years until I’m ready to hang up the teaching gig.  In other words, I have no real plan, except to keep blogging.  Now, on to the links -

1 – Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to figure out, like how to make a floating footer at the bottom of an HTML document.

2 – Wow, this is the best explanation of how to tell a good visual or written story I’ve ever heard.  “Hey, you, see, so.”

3 – We just got Flash CS4 and I’ve never even used it yet.  This summer I hope to put some of Mindy McAdams great flash tutorials to use for visual storytelling.

4 – Every regular reader of this blog knows I’m an unabashed Mac supporter.  But even us Mac heads have to use a PC once in a while.  Maximum PC has this perfect post with 19 Tips For Using Windows 7.  My best takeaway is how to quickly get to the multiple monitor menu when setting up a projector with a PC.

5 – Thank you Seth Godin for saying it.  People need to learn how to use email properly, and there are 8 simple things every user can do to get there.

6 – Why can’t we make changes in schools?  Of course there are many reasons, but resources are at the top of the list and this graphic explains it all - the gap between what “they” think we need and what we really need in resources in order to affect change.  Please read the whole post.

School Resource Change Gap

School Resource Change Gap

7 – I love Hulu.com for allowing me to watch shows when I want to without having to pay for a DVR from my satellite company.  But on top of that is the great content from the past that is available, like these segments of Kermit the Frog reporting from various fairy tales.  Classic.

8 – I know some of these are kind of silly, but this one is actually both cute and on point.  We all need to teach like this pianist and encourage out kids to do their best at what they are excited about.

9 – I love this poster: The bare essentials for a graphic designer.

Essentials for Graphic Design

Essentials for Graphic Design

10 – This may be a little dry for some, but I’m a fan of the great show How It’s Made and Petapixel has three videos that show the steps for making a Canon 500mm lens.  Interesting.

Have a great week.  Here in Texas we start our state assessment cycle (TAKS) this week with four days of testing in our high schools.  It looks to be a long week – let’s all hope it goes by quickly and uneventfully.

Food Revolution: Guest Posting on Fed Up With Lunch

I’ve never guest posted on someone’s blog before.  I guess there has been a certain amount of cowardice involved.  So, when one of my new favorite blogs asked for guest posts, I sent out an email.  And then I wrote my post and waited.  Finally, today is the day – my post went up on Fed Up With Lunch.  On a related note, I saw this graphic and had to post it.  Fed Up often speaks about the use of sporks on her campus with a certain level of disdain.  Please visit the blog, not just to read my post, but because I think that this is an important issue – how and what we feed our students every day.

Uses of Sporks

Uses of Sporks

Cool Links #85: The One About ILPC

Here in Texas, we have a journalism convention hosted by the state sports and academics authority (UIL) every spring in Austin on the campus of that Orange and White University.  (My sister is an Aggie, so I’m not allowed to say the name of the university in question.)  The trip is nearly always fun, entertaining and we learn something too.  I attended some great sessions put on by some great speakers from near and far.  One of the best parts of the trip is seeing other staff’s t-shirts.  My favorite this year was West Orange.  Their shirts said “That’s What She Said.” on the front and “You can tell me, I’m a reporter.” on the back.  It has taken me an entire week to recover from the lost sleep and insane amount of fun my students and I had on the trip.  So, now a long overdue Cool Links episode.

1 – Adam Westbrook says that news organizations are too big to succeed and that we all just need to keep it simple, silly.

2 – Jim Jordan provided one of my links this week in his UIL session last week – 51 Ways to tell the story of your year.

3 – This next link also came from the workshop, from a professor at the University of Nebraska, Scott Winter.  I really enjoyed this video about a native American girl, literally fighting to get off the reservation.

4 –  The incomparable Bob Kaplitz Blog has another gold nugget – this one shows why viewers hate boring, out of focus video.

5 – I’m not a big fan of script fonts in school publications.  Usually they are either overused or used in ways that harm readability.  But Web Design Ledger has a super group of 20 that are modern and useful.

6 – The Google CEO says newspapers will make money again – online.  They just need to hang on and get through these lean times.  I tend to agree with him, but I also understand that the dynamics of the web mean that most newspapers will be smaller, and more focused on local or niche content.

7 – Winning the war of the scrum is more a job for rugby players than photographers, unless you’re a paparazzo.  Fun Tuna has a collection of images that illustrate the daily grind of those who hunt stars for a living.

Photog Scrum

Photog Scrum

8 – Here’s a blog I added to my RSS reader recently – Local News Queen.

9 – This is the biggest problem with news organizations getting smaller.  Too big to fail, also often means too big to sue.  Few would willing take on the lawyers at the New York Times.  But I doubt many would hesitate to take on a blogger, especially one who makes their bread and butter in a small market.  The Newsosaur agrees and the comments on this article are even more engaging.

10 – While I teach in a 1:1 classroom (I have a workstation for every student), I don’t teach in a 1:1 school.  I wish I did.  I think that students from Title I schools need more than their peers.  They need computers in every grade PK-12.  But sadly, I see three of the five insights from the Always Learning blog as roadblocks in going 1:1 in a Title I school.

1. Involve All The Stakeholders:  Most Title I schools have little or no involvement from parents.  Many parents work, some have two jobs.  Others have language barriers.  Many feel uncomfortable in schools due to their own level of education.  It is a recipe for limited parental involvement.

2. School Leadership Must Take An Active Role:  School administrators in a Title I school have more problems on their plate than solutions.  They have limited time and resources.  They are not likely to initiate an expensive program like a 1:1 initiative when they have so many more pressing issues.  And mandated testing only exacerbates these problems.

4. Project Based Learning Is Where It’s At:  State mandated minimum skills tests take up so much time, effort, staffing and funding at Title I schools, that PBL is not going to be an option unless we change the metrics.  We can’t swim against the stream, when we’ve got to deal with the realities of passing a test that is difficult for students with issues that face most Title I schools.

11 – Jeff Jarvis reboxes his iPad.  The journalism professor was an early advocate of the device, but now says it is not going to benefit him as a content creator.  That’s too bad, because I think that if the iPad had a web cam and a microphone input, it would be a great journalism device.

12 – The Edit Foundry blog deals with the issue of color correction in Final Cut.  Very useful tips and tricks.

13 – Journalists are too focused on using ads to make money on the web according to Adam Westbrook.  I’m sure this is true, but as I’ve said before on this blog, journalists – especially in America – were told for three generations or more that it was unethical to get your hands dirty with the money making side of the business.  News should be clean and keep out of the sales dept.   Most journalists have little or no idea how to monetize anything.   And it may take an entire generation before that changes.

14 – Is the White House Press Corps dead? The Daily Beast thinks it may be dying.

15 – Is CNN dead? The New York Times thinks that the once great news network (remember the voice of James Earl Jones: This is CNN?) may be on the way out.  It’s death hastened by FOX News and MSNBC’s race to opinion based “reporting.”

16 – Several states including California are attempting to make unpaid internships illegal.  I want to salute them for that.  I remember a number of journalism students that I knew who could not find paying internships.  They were forced to work for free, and so did the bare minimum number of hours needed to complete their credit.  It didn’t serve them well and was a horrible way to “pay their dues” in the industry.

17 – Pxleyes blog has a fun post with 45 more Photoshop Disasters, some you’ve seen and some you haven’t – some safe for school, but not all.  Some are just creepy.

Creepy Photoshop Disasters

Creepy Photoshop Disasters

I think that’s going to do it for this week.  I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Our last day is the first week of June.

Cool Links #84: The One About Sleeping In

I really enjoyed my day of rest on Friday.  We didn’t have any school and so I took the time to sleep in and enjoy a day of peace and quiet.  I did go up to the church to see the recreation of the passion.  It was well done and inspiring.  I am energized and now ready to go back to school and finish up the year.  I’m even ready to deal with another trouble ticket for the yearbook on Monday.  It’s all good and so are the cool links.

1 – Thanks to ShortFormBlog for this link to Weird Al Yankovic’s short Youtube video with a grammar lesson.

2 – This speaks for itself.  Not sure why it would be censored?

Censorship = Evil

Censorship = Evil

3 – In the last week or two, I’ve become a fan of using non-destructive forms of editing in Photoshop, especially layer masks.  This tutorial has most everything you need to know to apply layer masks for adjustments.

4 – This video is about a printer who decided to reprint the engravings from a really old Webster’s Dictionary.  He did all the work by hand with old-fashioned letterpress printing equipment.  Even the book binding is done by hand.  Great video for yearbook kids to see how it used to be done.  I’d love to show it to my students, but Vimeo is blocked at my school, and I don’t know of any way to download from that site.  Any ideas?  Please send them to me.  BTW I use a Mac, so PC only software is out.

Bookbinding the Old Fashioned Way

Bookbinding the Old Fashioned Way

5 – The great design blog Hongkiat.com has a post about the 52 Worst Photoshop Mistakes.  I’ve seen a ton of them before on Photoshop Disasters.  But it’s great to revisit some old favorites.  Beware, a few are NSFS.

52 Photoshop Mistakes

52 Photoshop Mistakes

6 – As a yearbook photography teacher, I’m constantly dealing with photos that have to be shot indoors, with unflattering light, in low light or mixed lighting conditions.  DPs as is their habit, has another super post 5 Tips for Consistently Good Indoor Photos. Best Takeaway:  Make friends with your flash and learn how to maximise natural and manmade light.

7 – This is what I worry about the future of media: that it will become a literal walled garden for only the wealthy.  This is both for content creators and consumers.  Basically, as serious well-reported journalism shrinks, and fewer agree to pay for content, that content will increase in price and decrease in availability.  And as that happens, only the wealthy will care about and support serious journalism.  And the corollary to this is that journalism schools will shrink, disappear or become the territory for the rich.  For only the rich will be able to support themselves while they earn the right to work at one of the few elite media outlets that actually pays a salary.  Most middle class and students who come from poverty simply can not afford a life without a paycheck.  Many struggle now without loans and suffer under the requirements of a (usually) unpaid internship.  This means a summer without a summer job and the income that affords them.  As a journalism teacher in an urban high school, I see that as a terrible future.   Our country once saw equality of opportunity as a guiding principle.  Too bad that is not likely in the future.  Money has always been a big help in journalism – buying newer and better equipment.  Now it will be the only thing that matters.

8 – Want to learn HTML coding.  Here’s a great site that shows you how, step-by-step and in an interactive way.  Davesite.com also has CSS and Design tutorials too.

Have a great week and don’t let the testing demons get  you down.  Just a few more weeks until school’s out.

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